Olympics: 450,000 condoms smash Olympic mark

Olympic rings are seen at the entrance of office building ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 19.
Olympic rings are seen at the entrance of office building ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 19.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Even before the Games begin, Rio 2016 has broken a massive record, and it is not coming from the track, pool or any competition venues.

The record-breaking haul: 42 condoms per athlete for 17 days, 10,500 athletes, 33 venues and 450,000 condoms.

That is how many camisinhas (little shirts in Brazilian slang) are being supplied by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) for Rio.

Forty-two per athlete, to be specific, which, even by Olympic standards, is a lot.

The provision of 350,000 condoms, 100,000 female condoms and 175,000 packets of lubricant for Rio's Olympic Village is three times higher than the London 2012 allowance of 150,000 condoms, which prompted tabloids to dub it "the raunchiest Games ever".

"It is an absolutely huge allocation of condoms," admits Olympic rowing gold and silver medallist Zac Purchase, who retired from rowing in 2014 and competed in London and Beijing.

  • 8,500 

    Number of condoms provided for Olympians at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.


    Number of female condoms provided at the Games Village in Rio de Janeiro.

"But it is all so far from the truth of what it's like to be in there. It's not some sexualised cauldron of activity. We're talking about athletes who are focused on producing the best performance of their lives."

So why do they need 450,000 condoms? The record-breaking allocation for Rio is reported to be so high because female condoms are being given away for the first time.

The Zika virus, which has spread across Brazil and dominated Olympic discussions, is not being given as a reason but British athletes have been issued with key guidance and the Australian team will arrive armed with "Zika virus-proof" condoms to provide extra protection.

The latex count began in Seoul in 1988, when 8,500 condoms were distributed to athletes and reports of condoms found on the roofs of residences led the British Olympic Association to ban outdoor sex.

Since then, the number of condoms provided has jumped around more than a gold-medal gymnast: 90,000 to Barcelona in 1992 and an almost prudish 15,000 by comparison to Atlanta in 1996.

In Sydney 2000, the Australian organisers ordered 70,000 condoms but a further 20,000 were brought in when they ran out halfway through the Games.

In Athens 2004, Durex donated 130,000 condoms "to smooth the performance of the world's elite sports people in the arena and under the covers".

All of which oils the reputation of the village as some kind of sex-crazed Woodstock for athletes.

In London 2012, gay social networking application Grindr crashed as athletes arrived, and at Sochi 2014, a female Olympic gold snowboarder noted that "Tinder in the Olympic Village is next level".

After Beijing 2008, an Olympic table tennis player divulged the secrets of the "sex fest" and the "volcanic release of pent-up hedonism" that apparently happens when thousands of athletes at the top of their game come together.

"It's a calm place during the competition," Purchase insists. And afterwards?

"There is a lot of celebration, but it's very controlled."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline '450,000 condoms smash Olympic mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe